The following are a few of the more popular diet myths currently in circulation:
- You can target where you would like to lose weight from: Everyone’s body will burn fat in different ways. For some of us, that may be evenly from every part of the body at once. For others, some spots will lose weight more efficiently. You cannot, however, determine where your weight loss comes from through diet or exercise.
- Starvation Mode: Many dieters fear that if they eat at too much of a calorie deficit the body enters a form of “starvation mode” where it begins storing every calorie consumed as fat and causes weight loss to stall. This is a diet myth. While a form of “starvation mode” does exist in extreme cases in which people are actually starving to death, you’re not going to get there with your diet. Don’t use this fear as an excuse to snack.
- Toxin Cleansing Diets: There is no reason to believe the body stores “toxins” that can be cleansed through diet. None of these claims have any scientific merit.
- You can lose weight by simply becoming more active: Not to discount the importance of physical activity in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as it is crucial, but realistically weight loss is about 80% what you eat and 20% how active you are. The trope about the obesity epidemic being due to our modern lifestyle and not what we eat is false. Diet is the key component in reducing body mass.
- Fat makes you fat: Fat is an important part of a healthy diet. Despite what the name implies, dietary fats are not what make us “fat.” All of the macronutrients we consume probably play a role in weight gain, and fat has no special importance. On the contrary, there is some reason to believe carbohydrates may play more of a culprit due to their effect on insulin response, a hormone that drives fat storage.
- Multivitamins: Unless you know your diet is causing a nutrient deficiency that needs to be supplemented, as may be the case in a vegan diet, taking multivitamins is not of much use. Most people that eat anything resembling a good diet are accounting for all their nutritional requirements already. On top of this, many of the vitamins in multivitamins cannot be readily absorbed by the body. While they probably aren’t doing any harm, it may be best to save your money.
- Vitamin Water: Vitamin water appears to be a health-conscious choice for those of us with weight loss in mind, but most of it is actually loaded with sugar. It’s also wholly unnecessary if you’re already eating a reasonably varied diet.
- Gluten is bad: While there do exist people who are sensitive to gluten, or suffer from a severe gluten intolerance known as Celiac Disease, to the average person gluten is not harmful. There is presently no scientifically accepted reason to believe a healthy, non-sensitive individual benefits from removing gluten from their diet.
- Diet soda makes you gain weight: In truth, diet soda really is diet. Artificial sweeteners with little to no calories do really contain little to no calories and will not promote weight gain on their own.